For the second straight season, it took seven games to determine a winner between Amherst and South Shore. And for the second straight season, it was the Lumberjacks who came out on top.
The first two games were as close you could ask for, with South Shore winning each in double overtime. The teams traded goals in Game 1, with Matt Green tying the contest at 2 early in the third period. The first overtime, ten minutes in length, solved nothing. South Shore wasted little time securing a 1-0 series lead once play resumed as Christian Tsukamoto scored his second of the night 37 seconds in for a 3-2 win at Amherst Stadium.
It was much of the same in Game 2 in Bridgewater, but with a little more scoring. Amherst erupted for four goals in the second period, led by two from Green, to take a 5-3 lead to the third period. In that final frame, McKullen Astill and Cody Grant scored under four minutes apart in the later stages to send the game to overtime. At 2:34 of double overtime, Logan O’Neil found the back of the net for the second time in the game to secure a 6-5 comeback win and a 2-0 series lead.
The series turned when things went back to Amherst Stadium for Game 3. Green, who had an incredible series overall, scored just 1:30 into the first period and bookended the opening frame with his second of the night to help Amherst build a 4-1 lead. The teams would trade goals in the second period, including the hat trick goal for Green, but a 5-2 win for the Ramblers cut the series lead to 2-1. In what would become a familiar final score, the Ramblers tied the series 2-2 with a 4-3 win in Game 4. Aiden MacFarland had the winner at 14:46 of the second period.
Another back and forth affair would follow in Game 5 back in Amherst. The Ramblers took leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, but Tsukamoto’s second goal of the middle frame sent the teams to the dressing room tied at 3. MacFarland found the back of the net with just 3:27 to go in the third period for back to back game-winners and another 4-3 win. All of a sudden, the Ramblers had a 3-2 series lead.
The Lumberjacks, as they’ve done all season, continued to fight. Back in Bridgewater for Game 6, goals from O’Neil and Nicolas Tardif would stake the home side to a 2-0 lead after the first period. Amherst would claw back to get the score to 3-2 for South Shore after the second period, but Tardif would restore the two-goal lead in the third period. Despite another goal from Green in the series and being outshot 43-30, South Shore would force a deciding Game 7 with a 4-3 victory.
The Fred Page Cup hosts got off to a quick start in Game 7 in Amherst, with goals from Cole Waugh at 4:44 and Max Boudreau at 8:43 of the first. South Shore cut the lead to 2-1 with a powerplay goal from Grant at 12:23. O’Neil and Tardif scored 59 seconds apart, with the latter coming with just 33 seconds left in a wild opening frame to give the Lumberjacks a 3-2 lead. That wouldn’t last long, however, as Caleb Rich scored for Amherst early in the second period to knot the game at 3. Tsukamoto took advantage of a turnover to tie the game at 4 with just 2:21 left in the second period to set up the final frame.
The first overtime solved nothing, so the teams found themselves in double overtime once again. After scoring chances aplenty throughout the period, it was a shot from the point from Mitchell Arseneau with 1:12 to go that lifted South Shore to a dramatic 5-4 win and a spot in the Eastlink South Division Final to face Yarmouth. Shots were 58-46 in Game 7 in favour of Amherst. For the Ramblers, their work isn’t done just yet. They now have some time off as they prepare to host the Fred Page Cup from May 1st to 5th at Amherst Stadium. The Lumberjacks will be looking to avenge a five-game loss to the Mariners in last year’s Division Final.
Game 7 was the first game of the series where the team that scored first didn’t pick up the victory. The scoring by period was also very interesting to look at:
1st – 10
2nd – 14
3rd – 3
OT – 0
2OT – 0
1st – 11
2nd – 9
3rd – 3
OT – 0
2OT – 3